Empower L.A. URBAN LEAGUE COMING FULL CIRCLE
“THE WORK THAT WE DO HAS RIPPLE EFFECTS ON THE
DIFFERENCE MAKERS PAGE 04
INDIVIDUAL, THEIR FAMILY AND THEIR
Amare El Jamii
Executive Director Co-Founding Partner
A SoCalGas Publication
All photos are for informational purposes, and some may have been taken prior to COVID-19 when no mask mandate was in place. SoCalGas is currently practicing all safety protocols consistent with local and health agency guidelines.
IN THIS ISSUE
The JTM Construction Academy trains new students at the Compton Community Garden
Youth Action Program (YAP)
South Bay Workforce Invesment Board
Empowering the JTM Construction Academy to train tomorrow’s workforce.
Providing veterans with support and training to successfully begin a career at SoCalGas.
Training future generations in the fundamentals of customer service with the aim to connect qualified candidates with SoCalGas opportunities.
Delivering workforce development services that create a recruitment pipeline and support diversity, equity and inclusion in SoCalGas’ hiring initiatives.
THE LOS ANGELES URBAN LEAGUE For many people, finding a purpose can be a lifelong pursuit, and there isn’t a promise that the search will be fruitful. For Amare El Jamii, his purpose became clear to him when he started teaching other people the same trade he had learned himself. El Jamii is the executive director of the James T. Mitchell Academy, and he runs
the Construction Career Academy at the Los Angeles Urban League. There, he teaches people construction and utility trades to help them build new, fruitful careers. Once a student himself, El Jamii is now the teacher, mentor and guide for people like Phillip Hamilton, Jorge Ramos and Michael Jones.
Watch The Video Story
Amare El Jamii and his former students
Phillip Hamilton Energy Technician Residential Apprentice
The work that we do has ripple effects that I don’t think any of us can measure. We can watch it, but as those ripples go out, we really don’t know how far they will go.
All three of El Jamii’s protégés were looking for the same things when they found the Urban League — consistent work, a meaningful career and the chance to help their families thrive. Phillip Hamilton had worked in technology for 20 years and operated grocery stores in the Bahamas, but when it came time for his children to go to college, he knew he needed to make a change if he was going to be able to support their dreams. Jorge Ramos had lost his long-time job in the printing business when developments in the digital world made his job obsolete. He has three children and knew that he needed consistent work if he wanted to give them opportunities he didn’t have growing up. For Michael Jones, the eruption of COVID-19 left him unemployed. Also a father, Jones needed to find a way to provide for his family. Hamilton, Ramos and Jones were all looking for a chance to amplify their lives and take care of their children. They all found refuge at the Urban League and the Construction Career Academy led by El Jamii.
The capacity to effect positive change in the community is at the core of the Urban League. El Jamii is the perfect example of how the positive domino effect of this program works. He started as a student, then became an intern, and now he has the ability to give back to his students as a teacher and mentor. “The work that we do has ripple effects that I don’t think any of us can measure. We can watch it, but as those ripples go out, we really don’t know how far they will go,” El Jamii said. “It has an effect on the individual, then their immediate family, then their surrounding community.” The Urban League has been providing people in underserved communities with opportunities for career advancement for 100 years. In fact, the organization is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year. In 2019, SoCalGas forged a relationship with the Urban League by providing them with funding to help power the Construction Career Academy, or CCA.
The CCA is modeled after the James T. Mitchell Academy. James T. Mitchell once served as a consultant for the Urban League and originally started the JTM Academy in 1967 to help people learn construction and utility trades in order to pass the union exams required for most building trade jobs. Today, the CCA provides people with the opportunity to sign up for classes at no cost. Students learn math, spatial analysis and mechanical principles. SoCalGas provides financial support for the Urban League in an effort to invest in the students who funnel through the program, with the hope that they can possibly employ those individuals once they pass their exams.
For Hamilton and many others looking for career advancement opportunities, the partnership between SoCalGas and the Urban League came at a pivotal moment, right before COVID-19 erupted in the United States. El Jamii said that SoCalGas’ investment in the program helped keep it up and running. “SoCalGas’ donation has allowed us to keep our doors open consistently over the past year,” El Jamii said. “It’s been nonstop, and we’re getting folks prepared for exams as soon as they come up. So as soon as we hear from SoCalGas that they’re hiring, we get people to apply.”
Phillip Hamilton, Jorge Ramos and Michael Jones are all examples of students who were able to complete the program and find life-changing work with SoCalGas. In many ways, this opportunity is different from other career development initiatives. “The thing with the Urban League is, they don’t make any promises; they just do,” Hamilton said. “They create and they do. And they’re sponsored, apparently, by companies that actually want to hire the people that they’re putting through their program.” Today, Hamilton works as an Energy Technician Residential Apprentice (ERT-A) for SoCalGas, and he’s helping put his kids through college, just as he intended.
The continuation of classes during the pandemic was life-changing for many students, including Hamilton, Ramos and Jones. “When COVID hit back in March, basically everything closed. All my classes closed, a lot of businesses closed, but JTM did a pivot,” Hamilton said. “They basically said, ‘We’re going totally online.’ And I was like, well, that’s awesome. At least I have something to continue on with.” Hamilton attended his classes, passed the exams and went on to work with SoCalGas, which hired him right out of the program.
SoCalGas’ donation has allowed us to keep our doors open consistently over the past year.
Mike Jones, Energy Technician Residential Apprentice
Jorge Ramos, Field Service Assistant 9
Bright futures ahead
I never gave up. I continued going, even though I was working days, little odd jobs during the week to pay my bills,” Ramos said. “They kept supporting me. They kept supporting me.
Ramos, who now works as a Field Service Assistant (FSA) with SoCalGas, found his way into the position after COVID-19 hit. After he lost his job in the printing business, he worked odd jobs in construction to make ends meet, but it wasn’t enough to support his family. Ramos found an ad for construction classes with the Urban League via Facebook, started taking classes and eventually completed the program in 2019. When he finished the program, he immediately started looking for work but kept coming up against obstacles. First, in the middle of his job search, COVID-19 halted most of the citywide programs he had applied to. Then he was rejected from an electrician’s apprenticeship and a plumbing position. Although he was struggling to find work in the midst of the pandemic, he continued leaning on the Urban League and attending its classes and workshops. Eventually, he crossed paths with El Jamii, who connected him to the partnership program between the CCA and SoCalGas.
you back on the right track,” Jones said. “I believe everybody needs to have somebody like that in their corner.” El Jamii’s mentorship inspired Jones to give back to the program himself. “Whenever Amare gives me a call and wants me to come out to an event or needs me to show up for something, I definitely try to show up and give back and give a little piece of what he gave to me,” Jones said.
Ramos was able to pass his exams, apply for a position with SoCalGas and get hired as a field service assistant. “I’m really, really happy that I’m able to help my daughters through the university, because my parents couldn’t help me,” Ramos said. “So I broke that part of the generation where I can say I’m helping my kids achieve their dreams.”
Watching Hamilton, Ramos and Jones complete the program, achieve their goals and support their families gives El Jamii a deep sense of pride. He believes this program and the partnership with SoCalGas have the ability to give people the tools they need to become the best versions of themselves. “When I see that transformation inside of a student, it gives me confirmation that I’m living my life according to the purpose of why I’m here,” El Jamii said.
While his persistence certainly carried him through to the finish line, the Urban League provided Ramos with long-term support that made all the difference. “I never gave up. I continued going, even though I was working days, little odd jobs during the week to pay my bills,” Ramos said. “They kept supporting me. They kept supporting me.” Similarly to Ramos, Jones had also lost his job and was looking for work when he stumbled on the Urban League. He started taking classes with El Jamii at the CCA and eventually got hired by SoCalGas as an Energy Technician Residential Apprentice (ERT-A). It wasn’t just the tangible career opportunities that encouraged Jones to join the program, but also the promise of continued support and mentorship. “It’s very important to have somebody that believes in you. Because when you’re feeling discouraged, you have that person you can talk to and they can get
Hamilton also followed the path from student to mentor and now gives back to the program that helped him find a job. Today, he’s responsible for developing a mentorship initiative to help the younger generation. “I would sum this program up as taking care of the next one,” Hamilton said. “They say, teach the next one, give them a hand coming up. I believe it is my personal responsibility and the responsibility of the community to bring the youth up and give them the skills and tools necessary to be successful.”
The achievements of Hamilton, Ramos and Jones are clear indicators of how valuable the Urban League is and the power it has to impact the lives of the people who complete its programs. “Every person has their own story, and they are a story,” El Jamii said. “I think the collection of those stories is really the collection of who the Urban League is and who JTM Academy is, and the lives we’ve been able to change.” El Jamii thinks these programs are scalable and, with the continued help of SoCalGas, could expand to help people not only in Los Angeles, but also all around the state and even the country. For now, we celebrate the lives that have been positively impacted and how those individuals have turned around to give back to their communities to make a meaningful difference. 11
SOCALGAS HAS GIVEN A
$630,075 YTD TO WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS
At SoCalGas, our committment to provide customers with safe, reliable service goes beyond natural gas. We are also dedicated to improving the quality of life in the communities we serve. We give our time, financial support and focus our efforts in areas where we can make a difference.
A TOTAL OF
Through our partnerships and support of local non-profits, our efforts in workforce development programs are building stronger communities. From JVS SoCal and the Youth Action Project to the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade our aim is to cast a wide foundation of support.
The JTM Construction Academy at Work
JOBS SUCC (JVS) 14
S. VISION. CESS. ) SOCAL JVS SoCal is providing veterans with support and training to successfully begin a career at SoCalGas. The intake and assessment will provide the career coach with information regarding each veteran’s experience or certifications. 15
JVS SoCal is in their third year of partnership with SoCalGas. Through this partnership, JVS works with the Community Relations Team and Human Resources to promote job openings for Residential Energy Technicians and Survey Leak Technicians. Veterans from JVS SoCal’s Veterans First program have become employed with SoCalGas. In addition to helping to develop and support programs with JVS, SoCalGas also provides financial support to ensure the continued success and availability of these programs. Francis “Frank” Lister served in the U.S. Marines from August 1998 until August 2002. He was in the military police and his character of service was honorable. He came to JVS SoCal’s Veterans First program seeking employment support and was very interested in the SoCalGas opportunity. He was a single father and wanted a job that paid well and would allow him to be the father he wanted to be. He also had the work experience that allowed him to take the entrance exam without needing additional training. He met with JVS several times and was very motivated to achieve his goals. He passed the entrance exam and attended the subsequent interviews. He was very happy and grateful to JVS SoCal for directing him to this opportunity. He says that when he runs into fellow Veterans, he will have no hesitation about sharing his experiences and directing them to JVS SoCal to start their own employment journey. 16
Chris Barsoumian served in the US Army for more than thirteen years and returned from service in 2017. Following his medical separation/discharge from activity duty, he faced numerous challenges in obtaining meaningful employment in the civilian sector. Due to his prior military occupation, he was very limited on the relevant certifications and comparable experience it supported in the civilian sectors making competing with civilians a real challenge. He was also dealing with medical issues that he had sustained while serving on active duty which contributed to a very long 2-year lapse in unemployment following his military service discharge. He obtained employment with SoCalGas and completed his training two weeks before the COVID-19 shutdown. “JVS SoCal has propelled me into a magnificent career which is meaningful and makes a positive impact. They connected me with professional mentors with resume expertise, which accounted for a great part of my success returning to employment. JVS SoCal is a win-win all the way with no hidden agendas or strings attached. They are truly a genuine and highly trusted Veterans Service Organization with the sole purpose to aide, assist and prepare Veterans toward a path of wellness, recovery and success. Thank you JVS SoCal for being part of my transition from Military to civilian success!” - Chris Barsoumian
Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE) Beginning in 2022, this one-year partnership will target 15 low-income ethnic-minority individuals in L.A. County for three cohorts of five participants each. They will receive 80 hours of training with SoCalGas battery guides in the areas of Call Center, Customer Service, Field Operations,
HVAC and Weatherization/Energy Auditing. They will also benefit from on-the-job training with PACE Energy, Maravilla Foundation and other local service providers. The goal is to hire bilingual Asian employees for SoCalGas call centers.
YOUTH ACTION PROJECT Believing soft skills and customer service are the foundations for employability and economic success, Youth Action Program (YAP) is providing the following services: 1) Soft skills training and certification of Work Ethic Proficiency, 2) Customer service training and certification in Customer Service, 3) Case management and supportive services, 4) Interview and test preparation assistance, and 5) Connecting qualified candidates to SoCalGas career openings. In 2021, after the training was completed, 100% of participants reported they possessed the skills needed to be a successful employee. The next cohorts will have double the participants and will launch in January 2022. 19
South Bay Workforce Invesment Board In 2022, The South Bay Workforce Investment Board, Inc. (SBWIB), will deliver workforce development services to build a recruitment pipeline to support diversity, equity and inclusion in SoCalGas’ hiring initiatives. The SBWIB will recruit 250 individuals, conduct in-person/virtual recruitment information sessions to identify potential candidates and assist
100 screened, eligible candidates to apply for SoCalGas positions and prepare for hiring exams. The goal is to place 25 properly screened individuals per year in available SoCalGas positions, including construction technicians, energy service technicians and customer service representatives.
Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade SoCalGas has entered a pilot partnership to support Power Skills for Vocational Success. This extremely focused curriculum is designed to train and prepare low-income at-risk youth for meaningful employment in customer service. With an emphasis on those with High-Risk, Resilient, Opportunity and Disconnected barriers, Power Skills for Vocational Success will help these individuals secure positions and eventually advance into more highly compensated middle-wage careers. The program seeks to ensure their success, longevity and advancement throughout their career journeys. The facilitator of the program is Amir Haylock, Education College and Career Ambassador, of Brotherhood Crusade’s YouthSource Center. Participants were oriented with a light introduction to SoCalGas before understanding the history of customer service. While learning various tenets, participants are able to identify principles of great
customer service. The cohort is able to engage in dialogue surrounding both the wants and importance of this work and strategize ways to improve not only the customers experience but their own. The cohort walks through key tools needed for the industry and tangible skills to apply them. Additionally, later on in the programming they will have opportunities to hear from a variety of SoCalGas employees. Near the end of the program there will be a review of the various themes and components of a test they will be required to take from SoCalGas prior to be considered for employment. After completion of the program, the hopes are that each graduate will be wellequipped to provide excellent customer service to SoCalGas customers and provide overall value to the organization.
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